In the fall of 1990, several horsemen ( all of which would later become members of the BCH of NM ) had planned to camp at the Holy Ghost Campground, a popular entry into the Pecos Wilderness of northern New Mexico. Fully loaded with horses, mules, the usual gear and enough food for a month, we arrived just as FSFS workmen began pounding a sign at the entrance of the small parking lot;
"NO LIVESTOCK ALLOWED. $100 fine for violation" The workmen knew enough about this new rule to tell us that this campground was off- limits to livestock because it was now a designated handicap use area and we could ride across the newly paved parking lot but could not camp or hold our animals in the area. We packed up and moved to Jack's Creek horse camp at a higher elevation. We were probably the last horsemen to use Jack's Creek because the following week it too was closed. The area is usually closed after the hunting season since it is an Elk wintering ground. When local newspapers informed us about a possible permanent closure of the Jack's Creek Trail head by the EPA due to mine tailing contamination, we were alarmed and unable to get good information from the USFS at Pecos.
Something had to be done! "Somebody" had to do something. Then, I remembered an article I had read on the Back Country Horsemen of America in the magazine "Equus".... It had a great article about a service organization that did good things on horseback and worked with the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Maybe they had a chapter here? Maybe they could help? So I wrote Lloyd Fagerland a letter and here's what happened.....
The actual formation of the Back Country Horsemen took place in Montana's Flathead Valley in January of 1973. Growth of the BCH
as an organization continued with the formation of additional chapters in Montana. In 1977, The Back Country Horsemen of Washington
was incorporated and developed an informal liason with with the Montana and newly formed Idaho Back Country Horsemen.
In 1981, a California organization known as the High Sierra Stock Users was formed and after several years of of discussion the four groups decided to merge. They would collectively call themselves the Back Country Horsemen of America.
A constitution was drafted in 1985 and accepted in 1986. A board of directors elected from each of the four units became the governing body of the new organization , thus uniting the Montana, Idaho, California and Washington Back Country Horsemen into one.
Since that time, there has been steady growth with the four founding state organizations. In addition, new state chapters have formed in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina,, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming along with 9 other states. There are affiliates in Alaska, Florida, Arkansas, and Michigan. For more information on the National Organization, visit www.backcountryhorse.com or their Facebook page at: Back Country Horsemen of America.
1. To perpetuate the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America's back country and wilderness.
2. To work to insure that public lands remain open to recreational stock use.
3. To assist the agencies responsible for the management of public lands in meeting their goals.
4. To educate, encourage, and solicit active participation in the wise and sustaining use of the back country resource be horsemen and the general public commensurate with our heritage.
5. To foster and encourage the formation of new state Back Country Horsemen organizations.